Caution urged in cyber security debate

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NZN

Attempts by the so-called Five Eyes alliance to prevent terrorists using encrypted messages should be carefully considered, a Kiwi internet users group says.

Source: 1 NEWS

Ministers from the intelligence sharing alliance between New Zealand, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and United States met earlier this week to discuss how to work with communication providers to tackle terrorism.

But Internet NZ says it is worried the alliance governments will look to write new laws to force service providers to give them "backdoor" access enabling encrypted messages to be read.

The lobby has joined Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and 79 other groups in signing an open letter, addressed to the Five Eyes governments.

The letter accepts "the challenges of modern day security are real".

But its signatories also say encrypted communication tools are "relied upon by international commerce, the free press, governments, human rights advocates, and individuals around the world".

They called on the Five Eyes countries "to respect the right to use and develop strong encryption" and commit to allowing public participation in any future discussions about the technology.

Thomas Beagle, the chair of fellow Kiwi signatory the NZ Council for Civil Liberties, says the groups supported "justifiable lawful intercept with appropriate oversight".

"[But] we don't think we should be seriously weakening the security of the Internet to achieve it," he says.

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